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A singularly compelling debut novel, about a desert where people go to escape their past, and a truck driver who finds himself at risk when he falls in love with a mysterious woman.
Ben Jones lives a quiet, hardscrabble life, working as a trucker on Route 117, a little-travelled road in a remote region of the Utah desert which serves as a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. For many of the desert’s inhabitants, Ben's visits are their only contact with the outside world, and the only landmark worth noting is a once-famous roadside diner that hasn’t opened in years.
Ben’s routine is turned upside down when he stumbles across a beautiful woman named Claire playing a cello in an abandoned housing development. He can tell that she’s fleeing something in her past—a dark secret that pushed her to the end of the earth—but despite his better judgment he is inexorably drawn to her.
As Ben and Claire fall in love, specters from her past begin to resurface, with serious and life-threatening consequences not only for them both, but for others who have made this desert their sanctuary. Dangerous men come looking for her, and as they turn Route 117 upside down in their search, the long-buried secrets of those who’ve laid claim to this desert come to light, bringing Ben and the other locals into deadly conflict with Claire’s pursuers. Ultimately, the answers they all seek are connected to the desert’s greatest mystery—what really happened all those years ago at the never-open desert diner?
In this unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben learns the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations. At turns funny, heartbreaking and thrilling, The Never-Open Desert Diner powerfully evokes an unforgettable setting and introduces readers to a cast of characters who will linger long after the last page.
The Never-Open Desert Diner, the debut novel of author James Anderson, surprised me when it pulled me in from the first page and compelled me to keep reading until the last one. Anderson skillfully tells an intriguing story centered around a cast of odd, quirky characters and a vivid landscape, as truck driver Ben Jones makes his usual deliveries along an isolated stretch of Utah highway. One day, an unexpected discovery alters Ben’s routine and leads him into romance and mystery fraught with secrets, violence, and an entertaining touch of humor. The Never-Open Desert Diner is an entirely interesting read that I enjoyed, and I’m sure it will not fail to satisfy interested readers.
Thanks to Blogging for Books, I received a copy of The Never-Open Desert Diner and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.